Carroll Community College is one of two in the state without intercollegiate sports, but that statistic is about to change.
The college's Board of Trustees made it official at its monthly meeting Wednesday night and authorized Carroll's venture into creating a sports program. Intercollegiate sports are expected to debut in the fall of 2019, with men's and women's cross country, and men's and women's soccer.
That's Phase 1, according to an internal study conducted by college officials that began back in the summer. The study showed Carroll stands to see increased full-time enrollment numbers, while getting a chance to expand academics programs at the college.
Carroll's sports program will look to submit membership applications to the National Junior College Athletic Association and the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference.
County Commissioner Stephen Wantz attended Wednesday night's meeting and asked the board about its fiscal findings in regards to starting and maintaining an athletic program. Alan Schuman, the college's executive vice president of administration, led the response by saying the analysis showed Carroll projected to "break even" financially based on a minimum number of students attending the school full-time, paying an athletic fee, and maintaining academic eligibility.
James Ball, president of the college, said school officials plan on talking with local recreational sports organizations to come up with a way to share facilities on campus.
"It's exciting," said Rosalie Mince, Carroll's vice president of academics and student affairs, "but we're a little nervous too."
The college also plans to come up with a mascot for the sports program.
The college's data labeled Carroll has one of the top counties in Maryland in terms of high school sports participation — more than 3,600 students played at least one sport in 2015-16, according to the data. The study also showed about 200 Carroll County Public Schools students from the 2017 graduating class committed to playing a sport outside the county.
The study found 32 students attended and competed at another community college in the state, and 15 of them chose nearby Howard Community College.
Carroll stands to gain as many as 170 full-time student athletes over a four-year period based on roster projections for both cross country and soccer programs, as well as lacrosse, baseball, and softball programs that would be introduced in a second phase in the future.
Kelly Frager said she and fellow board member Dave Bollinger sat in on a NJCAA presentation last month at a conference, and listened to school officials praise their successful sports programs for helping students grow and improve.
"The testaments were really positive," Frager said.
Students must hold a minimum 2.0 grade-point average under NJCAA regulations, and they must take at least 12 credits in both fall and spring semesters. The board's summer study showed students are more likely to complete 60 credits and earn an associate degree with two years as a result of them playing college sports.
"Carroll wants to be a student athlete's first choice in this arena," Ball said in a news release. "We believe that a new program would be an attractive alternative to colleges outside the county for student athletes."
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Editor's Note: A previous version of this story misidentified an amount of Carroll County Public Schools 2017 graduates that had committed to playing a sport outside of the county.